Aug 7, 2023

More Q2 2023 Earnings Reports Demonstrate Big Pharma Firms Top Wall Street Expectations After Hiking Prices

Another round of second-quarter earnings reports from Big Pharma giants Pfizer and Merck sees the pharmaceutical industry once again beating Wall Street expectations after hiking prices on blockbuster products. Pfizer and Merck both reported Q2 earnings that topped Wall Street analysts’ expectations after launching several rounds of price hikes in 2023 while recording massive revenue and profits.


  • Pfizer announced second-quarter earnings that topped Wall Street’s expectations.
  • The pharmaceutical giant posted revenue of $12.73 billion in Q2 and Pfizer expects full-year revenue to reach $70 billion.
  • The company’s Covid vaccine raked in $1.49 billion in sales, and Pfizer’s Covid antiviral pill Paxlovid posted $143 million in revenue for the quarter.
  • The company reaffirmed its forecast of $13.5 billion in Covid vaccine sales and $8 billion in revenue for Paxlovid for 2023, however Chief Financial Officer David Denton said the company is “prepared to launch an enterprise wide cost improvement program,” should COVID-19 revenues further decline.
  • Cancer therapy maker Seagen, which Pfizer recently acquired, is expected to contribute more than $10 billion in sales to the company by 2030.


  • Merck reported second-quarter revenues that beat Wall Street analysts’ expectations.
  • Merck announced Q2 sales of $15 billion worldwide, up year over year, driven by blockbuster cancer drug Keytruda and HPV vaccine Gardasil.
  • Merck’s HPV vaccine, Gardasil, brought in $2.46 billion in sales, up 47 percent year over year.
  • Cancer drug Keytruda brought in sales of $6.3 billion, up 19 percent year-over-year, topping Wall Street forecasts.
  • Merck’s pharmaceutical portfolio brought in revenue of $13.46 billion, up six percent year-over-year and the drugmaker raised its 2023 sales forecast to nearly $60 billion.
  • Merck’s market value now tops $267 billion, making it the third-largest American pharmaceutical company.

The strong earnings come as both drug makers have implemented significant price hikes in 2023 and have a history of engaging in anti-competitive tactics.


  • Pfizer hiked prices on 125 medications in January, including the popular rheumatoid arthritis drug Xeljanz, by six percent.
  • Last month, Pfizer increased prices on another 21 prescription drugs, including 10 percent price increases on multiple products in their portfolio.
  • In 2022, Pfizer hiked drug prices more than 100 times, increasing the price of best-selling cancer treatment Ibrance by more than five percent.


  • Merck started 2023 by raising prices on more than 20 prescription drugs, including blockbuster diabetes medicines Januvia and Janumet by 4.9 percent each.
  • Merck’s blockbuster cancer drug Keytruda is on track to become “the highest-selling drug in the world and would be a Fortune 200 company on its own.”
  • Last December, Merck announced plans to seek new patents on Keytruda to expand its existing patent thicket on the drug and further extend its monopoly power by blocking competition.
  • Merck hiked prices on nearly 30 prescription drugs in 2022, including five percent increases on blockbuster diabetes medicines Januvia and Janumet.
  • Merck increased prices 20 times in 2021 by an average of five percent.
  • The brand name company also raised the price of HIV therapy treatment Isentress by almost five percent in 2021.

Read more on Q2 earnings from GlaxoSmithKline and AbbVie HERE.

Read more on Q2 earnings from Novartis and Johnson & Johnson HERE.

Stay tuned as we continue to monitor earnings calls from Big Pharma for Q2 of 2023 over the next week.

Learn more about solutions to lower prescription drug prices and hold Big Pharma accountable HERE.